From following an audio trail through an arboretum to lending a hand with digging as a volunteer at a botanic garden, engaging with plants offers a wealth of opportunities to develop and maintain physical fitness. And it’s a world away from pounding away on a treadmill in the gym.
Contact with nature also supports good mental health and emotional wellbeing – it can provide mental stimulation, reduce stress and support recovery from illness. Taking part in practical, hands-on activities based around plants can help people to build confidence and overcome social isolation. Engaging with plants at botanic gardens and other environmental centres can be particularly valuable to the physical and mental health of people living in cities, where there may be less immediate access to the natural world.
Family cycling at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest
© FC Picture Library / John McFarlane